Taking an active interest in the diet and health of your child is an extremely important part of your life as a parent. We truly are what we eat and if we let the TV ads, billboards and cartoon shows teach our children how to care for their nutritional health it won’t be long until our children are 20% sugar and 10% chicken nugget. It’s time to make sure our children can make good decisions regarding food.
The first and most important factor in this endeavor is to set a good example. Children learn from the actions and behaviors of the adults around them. If they see a regular rotation of potato chips and Chinese food restaurant delivery as the only food being eaten in their house this is going to leave an imprint. I have a friend who claims that vegetables make him physically ill. He is not allergic, rather he grew up in an environment where his parents didn’t ever eat real food and would pick the vegetables out of the food they ordered. This is an extreme example, but it’s not a fictional one. I promise you that. You may not be the biggest herbivore on the planet, but you are an adult. Make a conscious choice to eat more leafy greens and impress upon your children that the bounty of the garden is supposed to be a part of your diet. It may not be as tasty or as easy as ordering restaurant delivery, but raising a child to have the best shot in life is rarely easy or in line with your indulgences.
In this hectic world it can be very hard to find time to cook your own meals and this is doubly true for the parent. However, I do hope that you can find at least one night a week to cook a good meal for and with your children. Start your kids on cooking young and try to show them the fun and flavor that can be found in a kitchen. It may still be a long way off, but how many children do you hear about getting to college and then subsisting on fast food, restaurant delivery and instant ramen? The most common excuse I hear is, “I don’t know how to cook”. I ended up teaching my college friends how to cook and I will make sure that my kids know.
The long and the short of all this, good nutrition starts with the parents. It’s much easier to prevent bad eating habits than it is to break them. Sadly, all of our effort at home can be undone in short order with a terrible school lunch. We need to safeguard the health and futures of our children. Start yesterday.